of my long list of favorite posts by @paulg, “do things that don’t scale” has been top of mind for me lately. i usually have this link on speed dial, but i’ve shared, discussed, and debated the post a handful of times just the last few weeks in meetings and advisor sessions. it turns out the hardest part about this concept is putting it into action.
*actually* doing things that don’t scale is harder than it sounds.
as engineers, it’s instinctual to want to find a way to automate once and forever. for lawyers, it’s easy to glide down a slippery slope to get to a potential outcome x quarters down the road. for investors, it’s natural to think about how a company can build out its product / service to the delight of millions. for leaders of an organization, we're always looking to do more with less.
but none of that matters until you are at scale, or at least dutifully strolling down the golden brick road to building a massive company.
back around 2010 when i was hustling as co-founder of @workables, we practiced the unscalable. we were a finalist for techstars boulder and got our way into techstars for a day where they also used our workables for the event. the boulder team dug the service, and asked how we did it… after we told them, they naturally asked, “but how will that scale in more cities, for more users, etc, etc?”
paul graham, founder of yc, has seen the unscalable done to perfection -- and his post from last july has some killer examples from which to learn.
if you’re hacking away on your own venture, practice this.
if you’re head down at a startup, practice this.
it won’t always be the easiest sell internally, but adopting this experimental and experiential attitude into your culture is one of the few ways i know to get to the promised land of product-market fit.
ps, hoping this strategy works for newborns, as well... i'll report back.